Mr. Steinberg belittles his own function in calling himself simply an editor and compiler of this vitally important study of...



Mr. Steinberg belittles his own function in calling himself simply an editor and compiler of this vitally important study of Soviet Communism as evidenced by three decades of theory into actuality. He has used as his sources approximately forty writers, many of them at one time or another Communists, all of them intimately conversant with what has actually happened, the majority disillusioned by what had happened. In this very original and creative handling of his material, Mr. Steinberg has made a great contribution, in setting the background, analyzing the historic aspects, presenting the individual whose work he is using, and selecting from the writings the pertinent passages which supply -- cooperatively- an historic survey of the Russian experiment. The reader goes back, chronologically, to the overthrow of the Czar, the vigorous statement of aims and immediate action, (most of it contraverted by subsequent action), the second revolution which brought Lenin into power and was announced by many revolutionaries and liberals as the death blow to democracy. Even such renowned Communists as Rosa Luxemburg were among these prophets. Healthy criticism was levelled at the myths of Communism, the tendency to call anything against the government ""counter-revolutionary"". The early Bolshevist state is shown as the microcosm of the Stalinist state, and efforts to meet this tendency were put down (witness the Kronstadt Rebellion -- the disillusionment of such people as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman). He then traces the building of the cult of Lenin- the growth of the double standard- for Communists, for others- the Trotsky-Stalin conflict. Extracts from Stalin's own writings are revealatory, as evidence of the initial steps from dictatorship to totalitarianism. The four major events are then discussed:- forced industry, collectivization, purges and trials, and finally, the Nazi-Soviet Pact. During these years slave labor, famine, the death of intellectuals and scientists, the disillusionment of French and American intellectuals, all bore out the fears expressed earlier. With war came desertion of countless numbers, -- into the German army, into the hands of the allies; and the silent record of the unnumbered dead speaks for the violence of Russian reprisals. The economic system is then explored, the decline of trade unionism, the myths and realities as to standard of living, state ownership, wage differentials, closing of lines between bosses and workers, growth of a bureaucracy of privilege, false front of religion, emergence of a new official anti-Semitism, stultifying of nationalities, explosion of the ideals of Soviet culture, destruction of many aspects of science, etc. Interesting sidelights are given on the exposure of the Canadian spy ring, and Koestler, Bertrand Wolfe and others speak for the outstanding aware and objective critics of the Soviet brand of Communism. Intensely interesting, demanding closer reading and analysis than any other book of the kind. Don't sidetrack it as ""just an anthology"". It is a positive contribution to better understanding of Soviet Communism today.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Duell, Sloan & Pearce

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1950